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Coming to Dickens late in life,
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This review is from: David Copperfield (Everyman's Library) (Hardcover)
Writing a review of Dickens is very daunting. What can you say that's new? The greatest minds and writers of each generation are compelled to offer their opinions of his writings. Well, I feel compelled as well, simply because his writing has moved me so much.
I have come to Dickens late in life, right on the cusp of 50 years of age. When younger, I feared him to be cloying and contrived and it never took more than a page or two to confirm these fears. Besides, for English speaking readers, "Charles Dickens" is such a household word, his works so well known, it's almost as if he comes pre-read.
In a happy circumstance, I recently picked up a copy of "Great Expectations" on a whim, which has been in my girlfriend's bookshelf forever (isn't a copy of some Dickens' novel always close at hand?). A raced through Great Expectations and moved quickly to this novel, David Copperfield.
I won't re-hash too much what millions have felt and said about Dickens, except to say that it was a real thrill to feel that rush of excitement again about a writer - that tremendous feeling that makes you want to tell everyone you know about your discovery. I can't ever remember feeling this much concern for a group of characters before in any novel. In David Copperfield, Dickens created a character driven page-turner of over 1000 pages.
No writer before or since has been able to create an emotional bond between book and reader the way Charles Dickens could. One of the great pleasures of the book is the depiction of Uriah Heep, a villain that ranks up there with the demons of Milton or the murdering kings of Shakespeare. His power of others is astonishing and very creepy. The book is full of great characters, though, and for me one of the most memorable was James Steerforth: one of life's charming, natural winners. Dickens insight into this character is phenomenal, subtle, and somehow haunting. Steerforth is one of those characters that will forever seem "modern" and knowable.
For pure descriptive writing, a reader could search the classics of literature forever and not find anything to best "the storm scene" near the end of the book. Nothing I could say will come close to the feeling of reading these particular pages. I don't know anyone that has read this book without commenting on its power.
There must be other readers out there like me, thinking Dickens one of those classic writers from another age; worth knowing about but not worth reading. For those readers considering David Copperfield, I envy you. You are about to make one of those exciting discoveries that make life worth living. --Mykal Banta
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 3, 2008 10:52:10 PM PDT
Douglas Noel Adams says:
Beautiful rreview. Thank you!
Posted on Feb 24, 2011 8:26:48 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 24, 2011 8:28:31 AM PST
S. Chauvin says:
Yes, I too have returned to Dickens later in life at 40. Having been forced to read a couple of his novels in high school, I detested him. Couldn't he just get to the point. After getting a Kindle and loading it up with free classics, I decided to give Dickens another try and am glad I did. I just finished David Copperfield, and it does make you fell that life is worth living. There is something very moving and magical about it, especially the chapters of David as a boy. I think that I was too young in high school to understand the language and appreciate the poetry of his prose.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2011 8:30:56 AM PST
M. Dog says:
S.Chauvin: Great! Another reader come back to Dickens in adulthood! Thanks for commenting.
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